What Are the Grounds for Divorce under Texas Law and What Does Insupportability Mean?
Most divorces in Texas are granted on the no-fault grounds of insupportability. Insupportability simply means incompatibility; in other words, the parties are no longer compatible. The Texas Family Code provides that a court may grant a divorce without regard to fault if "the marriage has become insupportable because of discord or conflict of personalities that destroys the legitimate ends of the marital relationship and prevents any reasonable expectation of reconciliation."
Filing a no fault divorce on the grounds of insupportability
To grant a divorce on the no-fault grounds of insupportability, proof that one spouse was at fault in the break of the marriage is not required. Testimony by one spouse at the final hearing that "the marriage has become insupportable because of discord or conflict of personalities that destroys the legitimate ends of the marital relationship and prevents any reasonable expectation of reconciliation" is all that is required.
No defense to a petition for divorce based on insupportability exists under Texas law and there is no legal duty to reconcile. If either spouse wants a divorce, it will be granted by the court no matter how much the other spouse might protest. There is no requirement that the spouse requesting the divorce explain the nature of the conflict of personalities, how long such conflict has lasted, or who is at fault in creating the conflict.
Filing for fault a divorce
In addition to the no-fault grounds of insupportability, the Texas Family Code lists six fault grounds for divorce, which are:
- cruel treatment (that renders further living together insupportable)
- abandonment (for at least one year with the intent to abandon)
- long-term incarceration (more than one year)
- confinement to a mental hospital (for at least 3 years)
- living apart (for at least 3 years)
If fault grounds for divorce exist, they are almost always pled in additional to the no-fault grounds of insupportability. The reason for this is that it is not uncommon for a court to grant a divorce on the no-fault grounds of insupportability, even if fault grounds for the divorce exist.
However, if a fault ground is pled and the court decides to grant the divorce on the no-fault ground of insupportability, the court may still take fault in account in the division of the parties’ marital estate. It is not uncommon for a court to award the innocent spouse a disproportionate share of the parties’ community estate, even if the divorce is granted on the no-fault ground of insupportability.